Colin Kaepernick did not attempt a formal practice pass for the fourth straight session, but he did do a little light passing on the side during today's practice. Those attempts came while the Broncos and 49ers special teams were on the main field and the 49ers quarterbacks were tossing the ball on a side field, and they seem to indicate that Kaepernick's right shoulder is at least regaining some strength. He has not had a full practice in a week.
Though Kaepernick was limited during team drills to a few handoffs, he was the star of the autograph line at the end of practice. About 5,000 fans were on hand for the practice and many stuck around to have jerseys, hats and footballs signed. That created the interesting circumstance of Kaepernick signing his name for Broncos fans.
Kaepernick, of course, nearly was traded to Denver in the offseason, going so far as to meet with Broncos general manager John Elway -- twice -- in the Denver area. The deal fell through when Kaepernick declined to take a salary decrease. The fans certainly did not forget, with one yelling out, "Kaepernick! Why couldn't you come to Denver?"
Kaepernick certainly didn't mind the razzing. In fact, he spent 15 minutes signing and taking selfies with fans and was the last player to leave the session. He even went so far as to break up a dispute between a fan -- who was in a red, Kaepernick jersey -- and a sheriff's deputy. The fan had gotten perhaps too grabby and the Broncos security official who was next to Kaepernick barked at the fan. The sheriff's deputy then intervened, which drew Kaepernick into the fray. "Excuse me!" Kaepernick said sternly to the deputy. "We're good." He and the deputy shook hands at the end of the signing session.
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Meanwhile on the field, the 49ers quarterbacks again were erratic. Each of the three who were throwing passes -- Blaine Gabbert, Jeff Driskel and Christian Ponder -- threw an interception on their final turn in team drills. Gabbert was 5-9 in team sessions and had trouble pulling the trigger on several throws. Ponder was admittedly rusty and went 3-8 in team situations. Jeff Driskel, who is now getting all of the second-team reps, was 5-10.
Gabbert's last pass was picked off by safety Justin Simmons. Driskel tried to hit DiAndre Campbell over the middle on his final throw. The receiver got his hand on the ball, but it was tipped into the air and grabbed by cornerback Lorenzo Doss, who ran into the end zone. Finally, Ponder had a sideline pass to Dres Anderson that was knocked away by the cornerback. On the next play, Ponder tried the exact same throw, which, of course was picked off by cornerback Kayvon Webster.
The quarterbacks' best session game during 7-on-7 red-zone drills. Driskel had a couple of nice throws in the back of the end zone, including one on which Campbell went up high to grab the ball on the end line. Ponder struggled with timing and accuracy throughout, but he may have had the best throw of the day when he connected with Campbell in the corner of the end zone in 7-on-7 drills just beyond the reach of the cornerback.
Quinton Patton was back at wide receiver after sitting out team sessions Tuesday. Bruce Ellington (ankle) did not practice in full for the second straight day. (Ellington was seen running sprints after practice). DeAndrew White filled in at slot receiver. … Rookie Bryce Treggs, who had a strong week of practice last week, had a couple of drops and passes that glanced off his figertips today. … DeAndre Smelter did not practice.
After the 49ers and Texans scrimmages without any incidents last week, there were a few scraps betwen the 49ers and Broncos. Aaron Lynch and Broncos center James Ferentz tangled at one point. On the other side of the field ex-Bronco Zane Beadles and nose tackle Sylvester Williams had to be separated. ... Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe went to the ground during team drills and had to be helped into the training room.
Arik Armstead (shoulder) got a lot of individual work with Charles Haley, who made the trip to Denver with the team. But he did not take part in any contact drills with the Broncos. He hasn’t practiced in full since Aug. 7… DeForest Buckner looked good in one-on-one pass-rush drills. He drove his opponent back on one play, and on the next encounter whipped past the blocker and put him on the ground.
On the other side of the field, tackle Trent Brown was matched against Von Miller most of the morning. Brown got the better of Miller on their initial one-on-one encounter. Brown had a nice day overall, but he admitted that Miller, the reigning Super Bowl MVP, beat him a couple of times, too.
The 49ers will have another two-hour session in Engelwood Thursday.